Changes to SDA make disability housing process easier
Whether renting or buying, we all long for a place to call home.
For people with disability, that process has been made easier following changes that were announced in February after an Australian Government review of the SDA Pricing and Payments Framework.
We spoke to Northcott’s Accommodation Project Manager Simon Breakwell to learn more about the SDA Pricing and Payments Framework changes, and how this will impact people with disability.
What funding is available?
There are two types of funding that people with disability may be eligible for: Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Supported Independent Living (SIL).
According to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), SDA “refers to accommodation for people who require specialist housing solutions, including to assist with the delivery of supports that cater for their extreme functional impairment or very high support needs”.
In contrast, SIL refers to support with daily tasks that is provided within the home to ensure the recipient can live as independently as possible.
In other words, SDA is funding for the physical elements of the property and SIL is funding for support (e.g. a support worker).
So, what are the changes to SDA?
SDA is intended for life
The SDA Framework now states that SDA is “intended to provide long-term certainty for participants, providers and infrastructure investors about the enduring nature of specialist disability accommodation under the NDIS” (SDA Pricing and Payments Framework, para 8, p. 2). In addition, “it is not envisaged that a participant, once found eligible for SDA, would lose that eligibility” (para 71, p. 11).
This change will mean more certainty for people with disability when it comes to SDA funding.
“If you qualify for that extra component of Specialist Disability Accommodation funding, your situation is not going to change,” Simon said.
“If a person with disability qualifies now, we know that they will continue to qualify every year. It's something that is a permanent position for them”.
This change brings the SDA more in line with other forms of funding/income.
“When we apply for our first home loan, most people follow the same journey; you'll get a job and you'll work in that job for a year or two to prove that you've got a stable income and then you'll go to the bank and you'll ask for a vast amount of money,” Simon said.
“These customers should be no different, they receive funding that is regular and budgeted, and they need to know that it's going to be there year after year. If we're giving them the option to use their SDA funding to pay a mortgage, the amount of stress that would be caused if you could possibly lose that - because there's a change in conditions or government or anything else - is enormous.”
SDA can be approved even without a dwelling
Previously, SDA funding was only approved once the applicant had found a suitable home. This caused many issues for NDIS recipients, limiting their flexibility when it came to exploring their housing options.
“For example, some of the properties Northcott are dealing with at the moment are in the process of being built and they're not registered, so we don't have a lot number or a street number or even a street name,” Simon said.
“And of course the other issue is that things can often be delayed, so by the time the person has been assessed for SDA funding the property they were looking at might be gone.”
Now, NDIS participants with SDA funding will be able to expand their options, making the process the same as it is for anyone who is searching for a home.
“For example, you might have family that live in Gosford, so you might be looking for a property in Gosford, but you also really like Newcastle, so you might look there as well,” Simon said.
“You don't go to an auction without pre-approval, and now you won’t look at an SDA property without knowing that your SDA funding has been approved.”
Future changes will keep families together
Prior to recently announced changes, people with SDA funding were not easily able to live with their partners or children unless they also had SDA funding.
Changes are coming soon (the details are yet to be confirmed) to ensure that people with SDA funding are able to live within a family unit, or with other people who don’t receive SDA funding.
“The SDA division of the NDIA has been really proactive in listening to us,” Simon said.
“People with disability should have the ability to live in an appropriately built house with their family - as we all do, so these changes are really exciting.”
So, what should you do if you’re looking for housing?
With these recent changes it’s now easier than ever for people with disability to find the perfect home, and Northcott can offer support with the process through our Housing and Supported Independent Living service.
“The biggest thing we want people to consider really early on is whether to include accommodation in their NDIS plan,” Simon said.
“That might not be where the person is at currently, but it’s important to try to predict the next six to 12 months and decide will accommodation be needed?
“Just start the conversation.”
If you’re ready to start the conversation, contact our Housing and Supported Independent Living team or call 1800 818 286.
Northcott has partnered with specialist disability housing provider DPN Casa Capace to bring innovative disability housing to the south west Sydney suburb of Oran Park.